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View Full Version : New tenant, blocked sewer drain, my rights?



HelenB
27-10-2009, 08:50 AM
Hello

Im new to this site, and renting! I've been renting my bungalow for 6 months now, about a month ago I reported a blocked sewer drain, it wasnt completely blocked just slow to drain, I noticed when the toilet bowl started to drain slowly, then by chance noticed to drain outside the toilet had overflowed onto the patio in the rear garden. Soon realised that using the washing machine and showering also made it overflow. However it would soon drain away.

I reported it straight away to the agents, whom have been a nightmare, not returning my calls as promised and not keeping me updated. After getting very stressed over 2 days trying to get a response, I was told that the landlord wanted to fix it himself, and would be in touch. I decided then that I should chill a bit, the toilet was usuable and so what if the drains overflowed, i'd done my bit.

A week later a maintanence chap turned up, unannounced, took one look and said he'd be back the following week, it just needs rodding, he did return while I was at work (i didnt mind as long as it got fixed) but he just left his tools and hasnt been back since!!

It is gradually getting worse, and i've again got on the case (numerous calls with no call backs), Ive been told today it will be fixed tomorrow (weds 28 oct) However I won't hold my breath and would like to know my rights. Im worried that it may get to the point where the toilet wont flush and its the only toilet I have.

I know ive been totally nieve, and I've read a few posts on here today and realised I should of put every thing in writing, which I didnt do, and read the advice about getting quotes myself etc, however as this is pretty urgent now, is there anything else I can do?

Paul_f
27-10-2009, 09:14 AM
You are likely to be responsible for any blockages that occur unless your service is shared with others. Look at your tenancy agreement and see where the responsibility lies. If the service is excusively yours then I'm afraid you might have to have it rodded at your own expense, especially if something is found that you have accidentally put down the sink/toilet etc. Make some enquiries.

jeffrey
27-10-2009, 09:22 AM
Eh? Paul: what about s.11 of LTA 1985?

HelenB
27-10-2009, 09:52 AM
Hi

My contract states im responsible if its down to my 'overloading' however as I live alone, and dont put things I shouldnt down the loo, I dont think I overload it. Also do they have to prove I overloaded it? I would assume they can only do that by unblocking and seeing what is down there? At no point have they advised that I am responsible. If so I would of had it fixed straight away.

jeffrey
27-10-2009, 09:59 AM
Here's section of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 mentioned earlier. Look at the words that I've underlined. As long as you (T) have used the premises in a proper and tenantlike manner, L is inescapably responsible.

11. Repairing obligations in short leases.

(1) In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor:
(a) to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
(b) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
(c) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

(1A) If a lease to which this section applies is a lease of a dwelling-house which forms part only of a building, then, subject to subsection (1B), the covenant implied by subsection (1) shall have effect as if:
(a) the reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the dwelling-house included a reference to any part of the building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; and
(b) any reference in paragraphs (b) and (c) of that subsection to an installation in the dwelling-house included a reference to an installation which, directly or indirectly, serves the dwelling-house and which either:
(i) forms part of any part of a building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; or
(ii) is owned by the lessor or under his control.

(1B) Nothing in subsection (1A) shall be construed as requiring the lessor to carry out any works or repairs unless the disrepair (or failure to maintain in working order) is such as to affect the lessee’s enjoyment of the dwelling-house or of any common parts, as defined in section 60(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which the lessee, as such, is entitled to use.

(2) The covenant implied by subsection (1)( “the lessor’s repairing covenant”) shall not be construed as requiring the lessor:
(a) to carry out works or repairs for which the lessee is liable by virtue of his duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or would be so liable but for an express covenant on his part,
(b) to rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, or by tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or
(c) to keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house.

(3) In determining the standard of repair required by the lessor’s repairing covenant, regard shall be had to the age, character and prospective life of the dwelling-house and the locality in which it is situated.

(3A) In any case where:
(a) the lessor’s repairing covenant has effect as mentioned in subsection (1A), and
(b) in order to comply with the covenant the lessor needs to carry out works or repairs otherwise than in, or to an installation in, the dwelling-house, and
(c) the lessor does not have a sufficient right in the part of the building or the installation concerned to enable him to carry out the required works or repairs,
then, in any proceedings relating to a failure to comply with the lessor’s repairing covenant, so far as it requires the lessor to carry out the works or repairs in question, it shall be a defence for the lessor to prove that he used all reasonable endeavours to obtain, but was unable to obtain, such rights as would be adequate to enable him to carry out the works or repairs.

(4) A covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises is of no effect so far as it relates to the matters mentioned in subsection (1)(a) to (c), except so far as it imposes on the lessee any of the requirements mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or (c).

(5) The reference in subsection (4) to a convenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises includes a covenant:
(a) to put in repair or deliver up in repair,
(b) to paint, point or render,
(c) to pay money in lieu of repairs by the lessee, or
(d) to pay money on account of repairs by the lessor.

(6) In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

Telometer
27-10-2009, 15:36 PM
If you have put tampons down the loo and they have caused the blockage, then it will be up to you to pay.

Otherwise, L.

Never too late to start putting things in writing. Write to the agents and L, detailing the action you have taken to date. Set out a timeframe for resolution - a week is plenty - make reference to s11 LTA to remind them of their responsibilities and say if they do not do it you will be following the procedure to resolve the problem yourself.

Paul_f
27-10-2009, 20:22 PM
Eh? Paul: what about s.11 of LTA 1985?Sorry! I know where you're coming from. My post was unclear. I was trying to ascertain whether there might be a shared responsibility if T had caused the blockage and to refer to the TA for guidance (if any).

mind the gap
27-10-2009, 21:13 PM
Sorry! I know where you're coming from. My post was unclear. I was trying to ascertain whether there might be a shared responsibility if T had caused the blockage and to refer to the TA for guidance (if any).
Thank you for shifting that blockage. :D

Still a clear as ...well, a drainful of ...?

davidjohnbutton
27-10-2009, 22:27 PM
My rule as a landlord is always to clear the blockage but reserve the right to charge the tenant if it is found they have placed unacceptable material down the toilet such as tampons, newspaper or nappies or paper towels.

mind the gap
27-10-2009, 22:34 PM
My rule as a landlord is always to clear the blockage but reserve the right to charge the tenant if it is found they have placed unacceptable material down the toilet such as tampons, newspaper or nappies or paper towels.

Sound a perfectly reasonable solution, although it assumes a degree of trust on both sides, I suppose. Otherwise you're into DNA testing of blockages...don't go there:eek:

davidjohnbutton
28-10-2009, 01:07 AM
Well yes, but certainly in one case I had, it was easy to find the culprits - foul sewer drain into which two semi-detched properties discharged, my single male tenant in one and a housing association office in the other half staffed by 6 females. No sanitary towel disposal apparently in the offices - drain found to be full of them when they (the HA lot) called me out to unblock "my" drain.

I unblocked it myself because it was causing back-up to my house and I sent the HA a bill together with a nice colour photograph. They paid when I threatened to sue!!!!!!

FST's and those absorbent kitchen towels are the main cause of blockages because they swell up to absorb liquid.

Mother in law was found have been using the kitchen towels instead of ordinary bog paper - false economy since what she saved she had to spend on having the drain unblocked!

Anyway, when we run low on ass fodder, I tell everyone to use both sides!!!!!